A review meeting on the various initiatives taken to preserve the heritage status of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was held between the representatives of UNESCO and NR Railway at Maligaon on December 9.
The meeting was attended by UNESCO officials – Michael Pearson, expert from International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), Australia and Nao Hayashi from UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Paris.
Before the meeting, the UNESCO officials visited the DHR on December 7-8 and discussed with various stakeholders to assess and assist in managing the heritage site.
An agreement was executed by Indian Railways on January 20, 2017 with UNESCO for development of CCMP (Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan) on Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
During the meeting final review of Indian Railway for finalization of the final CCMP was discussed.
The review was also held on illegal construction alongside the railway track. A total of 6 eviction drives were launched since January 2017. The eviction was done against unauthorised construction after surveillance of the property.
The discussion was also held on various ongoing projects which are going on for heritage preservation, restoration and conservation of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway property.
Various preservation and conservation work worth more than Rs 15 crore were being done by NFR in Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. The Northeast Frontier Railway recently celebrated the 20th year of World Heritage declaration of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Various steps taken by the NFR has been successful in increasing the number of travellers who travelled by toy trains. Total toy train travellers during 2018 were 108940 in comparison to 64030 of 2017. This year up to October 93210 visitors travelled by the toy train.
Northeast Frontier Railway has already introduced a vista-dome coach in the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. This has become immensely popular amongst tourist. The two air-conditioned coaches were developed by refurbishing two first-class coaches. There are at present four services hauled by a steam engine and 10 services hauled by a diesel engine.